CNN recently reported that The Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection agency ended their contract with Accenture. The contract was controversial for a number of reasons and amounted to $297 million. One of the many issues surrounding this deal involved the lackluster performance of Accenture. As of December 2018 Accenture had only completed processing 58 applicants and only 22 had been hired after being almost a year into the contract. The approximate 3,500 applicants who haven’t been processed have reportedly been transferred to CBP following the cancellation of their agreement. Accenture was reportedly paid about $19 million for start-up costs and about $2 million for the 58 candidates who were processed.
On September 5th, 2018 I received an email announcing the release of “Staffing Speaks Out”, a conversation series with staffing & recruiting industry leaders by Bullhorn. The email quotes their intro video (seen below) and claims to be a place for learning, growth, and inspiration. All provided by industry professionals, experts, influencers, and… you guessed it, Bullhorn customers.
Needless to say I was intrigued. I followed the link in the email and was pleasantly surprised to find a number of high value video interviews and articles covering marketing in the staffing industry.
Topic: Marketing For Staffing Firms
One video in particular struck me as being highly valuable to a lot of agencies. The interview features Sr Director of Marketing Lauren Schuman of the NYC based staffing firm, Pyramid Consulting Group. Several of the topics covered in the interview relate to how Pyramid tackles obstacles in marketing to clients and candidates in the staffing field. The importance of mobile optimization for your website and the increased use of mobile devices by job seekers is emphasized. Shorter, more concise job descriptions are also recommended by Lauren. Her firm puts much of their attention to forward thinking technology and has been moving away from outdated practices such as cold calling in favor of sms notifications and text messaging.
“Just know your audience. I think cold calling is kind of an outdated practice, as well. I think that, again, there are some industries where it still works, but for us, our people aren’t responding to that. They’re not listening to voicemails. They’re not picking up the phone for a number that they don’t know.” – Lauren Schuman
Video content is also discussed as being a strategy Pyramid uses to reach potential candidates & clients. While search engines like Google still show a lot of love for long form text content, video can have a meaningful impact on the SEO of your website by improving user experience metrics. It has an even greater impact on users who are more likely to consume video content than text content.
Bullhorn is known for producing great content like this and for providing a robust marketplace for service providers such as those mentioned in the video. TextUs and Cube19 are both mentioned in the interview with Lauren Schuman. TextUs is a text messaging platform that integrates with Bullhorn and Cube19 provides analytics dashboards to better understand how your marketing efforts are working.
So Much Potential
There are a number of topics I’d love to see them cover, however I have some concerns that they may only be tapping Bullhorn customers for these video interviews. While I’m a huge fan of Bullhorn, there are industry experts outside of the pool of Bullhorn users that may have valuable insight into marketing, design, operations, sales, business development, and branding for staffing & recruiting firms. I see so much potential in the first few videos and articles that they’ve published under this brand that I worry it will be used to plug their marketplace too much and not give enough emphasis on tools and marketing platforms outside of the Bullhorn marketplace. These concerns may be premature but with such a strong start to the Staffing Speaks Out series, I’m optimistic that they’ll continue to churn out great content in the future. I’ve already learned quite a bit from the Staffing Speaks Out series, I hope you have too.
My topics wishlist includes: ad targeting strategies for passive vs active candidates, content marketing strategies for the staffing industry, and how to best utilize sourcing tools such as Indeed and LinkedIn. Also, I’d love to see interviews with Joe Green (CMO of Medical Solutions), Sara Menke (SEO of Premier Talent Partners), or Amber Ireland (VP of Marketing at PPR Talent Management Group). I think their interviews would be insightful due to their different perspectives, industries, and experience with marketing at different levels of their organizations.
If you’ve been working in staffing-related marketing or operations, you understand that much pain is caused by the technical aspect of staffing, specifically around dealing with the limited functionality and performance of web application integrations. As experienced marketers and developers solely focused on how technology impacts staffing and hiring nationwide, the team behind Staffing Nerd sees this as a problem worth solving. Our drive to fill some of the major gaps in technology pushed us to evaluate how job listings are published and disseminated online.
One of the most common issues we deal with relates to the setup, configuration, and optimization of WordPress-related functionality. While addressing these issues we built elegant solutions which have grown into tools now accessible to the greater staffing community. WP Staffing is our answer to the question of how to build a job board with cost performance and reliability top of mind.
Upfront costs can cripple budgets and hinder investment in other areas. There can often be penalties related to changing services & technology partners. You may find that your applications need to be rebuilt to route information properly between an application tracking system, on-site job board, and API feeds. Constant delays can add an unnecessary layer of stress and can harm your bottom line. By reducing upfront costs and eliminating slow implementation periods we’ve been able to mitigate these issues.
In an effort to make our tools accessible we turned our attention to WordPress. If you’re not familiar, WordPress is a content management system and online framework used by one out of every three websites on the Internet today. Our team is very familiar with WordPress, developing on the platform for much of our careers. Nearly 90% of the websites our team has developed and maintained run on WordPress. This pushed us to consider how we can supplement existing applications and plugins to create a solution that offers flexibility and reliability. These tools are designed specifically for the staffing industry, solving problems unique to your business. Introducing WP Staffing.
Before we let you dive into WP Staffing, it’s important to understand how it works with the existing WordPress ecosystem. We asked Peter David, a senior developer, to help bridge the gap and gain a sense of what currently exists and why WP Staffing fills a need currently unmet, even by enterprise staffing developers such as Bullhorn.
How WP Staffing Works
Can you give us a rundown of how WP Staffing works? So, the plugin hooks into a plugin by Automattic called WP Job Manager, and what Job Manager can do is either set up a simple job board for people that want to just post a couple of internal job postings, or it can help you create a job board on your website that people will pay to submit listings to your job board.
How We Cater to The Staffing Industry
This seems like a functional plugin for non-staffing companies. There are nuanced needs for staffing companies specifically that are sought out. How does WP Staffing handle these?
Right, so what it doesn’t do is set it up to act like a job board tool for staffing agencies. So, what our plugin does is add profession and specialty taxonomies so that those are sortable fields. Our plugin also allows you to scrub off all of the company data on job listings in the job details and replace it with your own company’s information.
What are some premium benefits to WP Staffing that strengthen the utility for staffing agencies?
There’s also a Pro version of the plugin that allows you to hide different things that you wouldn’t want job seekers to see. For instance, you could hide the posted on date so older jobs won’t appear less valuable, or sometimes an agency won’t want to show the city of a particular job is located in, but they still need to track that information at the back end. It also can hide other stuff, like shift information if you don’t want to display that. There’s also a couple other handy things that we’ve added, like color pickers to help you match the colors to your brand.
Integrating With WordPress
So why the integration with WP Job Manager instead of just rebuilding the plugin from scratch?
Working with WP Job Manager allows us to still use the plugin for what it’s good for, which is a really tight integration with the WordPress platform. So, all of your jobs are posts in the back end, and those posts can then be entered into your sitemap for Google indexing. They have Google schema on the page. It’s really solid mark-up, and for developers, the plugin is a really great platform for extending and customizing functionality any way a staffing company might need it to be customized. But then we added all the extra stuff shown below.
WP Staffing Customizer
This plugin takes WP Job Manager to the next level for professional staffing agencies. Add extra filters to your job search form and taxonomies to your job listing:
Add a recruiter to a job Set global information for all job listings:
WP Staffing Customizer Pro
Add extra fields to the job listing:
Job Source Information
Easily Hide info from your job listing page:
This plugin also hooks into the WP Job Manager Applications plugin to track candidate analytics tags. Find out where your leads are coming from:
Widget areas for the job search page and job listing page
Change your layout between grid, list, 2 column easily
Customize the colors in your job search widget with a color picker.
Learn More About WP Staffing
The out of the box solution from many ATS systems and other SaaS job boards ignore the fact that your WordPress website should be the hub of your marketing efforts. Our job board options keep users and google bots on your domain and don’t send job seekers to another website or display your jobs in an iframe.
In a press release published on February 09, 2018 Medical Solutions, an Omaha based medical staffing firm, announced they will be acquiring PPR Talent Management Group. PPR provides travel nurse staffing from their offices in Jacksonville, FL. PPR will continue to operate on its own accord indefinitely according to the press release.
This appears to be a great investment for Medical Solutions as PPR has a great reputation among travelers in the healthcare field and has consistently won awards from several organizations for being a great company to work for. As of 2017 PPR Travel Nursing had been awarded a spot on the national list of America’s “Best Places to Work”. In 2016 they received the number 7 spot on the list which is incredible for a staffing agency. The staffing industry is so often viewed negatively from the outside in so it’s a testament to their performance to win such an honor. In 2016 PPR was also named a Gallup Great Workplace Award Winner among 35 other organizations. They’ve also received accolades from Highway Hypodermics, a travel nursing community website as one of the top 10 travel nursing companies of 2018.
“In partnering with PPR, we are combing two great businesses with a shared vision and commitment to delivering an exceptional experience for employees and clients. With industry-leading talent retention, PPR is aligned with our focus on creating a positive and supportive environment that gives employees the opportunity to grow, both personally and professionally. As demand for travel nurses continues to outgrow supply, this combination gives us the depth and resources to serve even more patients across the country.”
– Craig Meier, CEO of Medical Solutions
“This transaction brings together two highly-reputable brands in the healthcare staffing sector that, together, are well positioned to tackle the tremendous and growing need for contingent labor in healthcare across the United States. The addition of PPR will enable Medical Solutions to diversify into new care settings, expand its MSP efforts, and continue recruiting best-in-class talent across the business. This partnership creates more jobs and opportunities for new and existing travel nurses across both organizations. We are pleased to support Craig and the team in this exciting next chapter.”
– Shamik Patel of TPG Growth.
Medical Solutions acquired PPR from Trivest Partners, who partnered with PPR in 2016. The transaction is subject to standard conditions, including regulatory clearance, and is expected to close in the first quarter of 2018. Additional terms of the transaction have not yet been disclosed.
Improving user experience has been a focus for several years and will continue in 2018. Many aspects of digital marketing will involve a heavy focus on user experience for staffing agencies moving forward for many years. If you look at the trends from around the web you see it everywhere. Google now tracks user experience metrics for organic activity on your site in order to determine how well you should rank on certain keywords. User experience also drives conversion rates, brand affinity, reputation, applications, and hires. Many aspects of UX relate to website design & layout. However, user experience is much more complicated than menus and chat boxes. Customer experience should also be considered in this and all stages of the funnel should be looked at for ways to improve the candidates overall experience.
2. Content Marketing
Over the last few years, content marketing has grown to become one of the most effective forms of digital marketing. According to a 2017 report by the Content Marketing Institute over 60% of digital marketers reported that content marketing was more effective the previous year. We expect that trend to continue. Content marketing involves creating and distributing relevant content that’s valuable in some way to the reader. For staffing, this could be a resource that provides information or a fun blog that provides entertainment. Choosing the right content to produce requires research, creativity, and a knack for words. However, creating content isn’t enough, you must also distribute it in a way that puts your content in front of readers and potential clients & candidates. Distribution for content is most common on social media but there are dozens of other effective ways to distribute your content.
3. Influencer Marketing
Utilizing the reach of influencers will continue to grow in the staffing industry. While this strategy has been effective in the more progressive circles in marketing for some time, staffing is just now coming around to the concept. There are some unique difficulties associated with influencer marketing that are unique to the staffing & recruitment industry. Harvesting contact information on staffing influencers isn’t the difficult part, building relationships and leveraging those relationships takes time and tact. In 2017 vloggers & bloggers continued to grow in quantity as well as their number of followers. We expect to see that trend continue in 2018.
4. Outreach Marketing
Outreach Marketing is most often described as an aspect of Influencer Marketing (the savvy marketing specialist identifies thought leaders and influencers in their industry and formulates a strategy for reaching out to them, garnering favor and acquiring mentions & links). However, for the staffing industry, outreach marketing deserves it’s own mention, especially for marketing trends in 2018. In the staffing industry, influencers aren’t just individuals. They’re industry associations, organizations, universities, alumni associations, certification services, etc. Expect to see comprehensive outreach campaigns that target these organizations grow in popularity as well as efficacy in 2018.
5. Mobile Apps
Developing your own mobile app isn’t for the faint of heart. There are greater risks & rewards when developing a mobile app compared to other marketing trends for staffing in 2018. Major players in healthcare and tech staffing are already working on these. The apps in development (and in production) provide services for job searching, licensure & credentialing, shift exchanges & shift management, salary calculators, shift check-in, timesheet tracking, traveler resources, and much more. One trend that we expect to see is more staffing agencies compiling their resources into an easy to use app that can be used as a value-add for their candidates.
Staffing agencies have been using storytelling for years, some better than others. The industry has developed a negative reputation as being a cold call, high-pressure sales industry. For this reason, many staffing agencies resort to storytelling to humanize themselves and their candidates. One effective method for this is the “featured traveler” often seen promoted by healthcare staffing companies. Telling the stories of your company and employees is a good start but there’s so much more to storytelling than that. Storytelling can be used in job descriptions, display ads, content marketing, as well as influencer & outreach marketing. Don’t be afraid to go outside the box and tell an interesting story. Also, encourage your clients and candidates to tell their stories. Even go as far as to facilitate a platform for them to do so. Incentivize storytelling and make your company human. Because, if you don’t start doing it in 2018, expect your competitors to tell their stories while you remain a silent cold phone call from an anonymous recruiter.
WordPress will continue to grow in usage as will WordPress plugins that improve staffing websites. WordPress is a great platform for users to create content without requiring an expert understanding of web development and design. Many marketing & design agencies that build websites choose to develop on WordPress because of its flexibility and ease of use. All the resources regarding WordPress we’ve been able to find on trends and predictions emphasize and increase in WordPress usage in 2018. While there are some security concerns relating to WordPress, a capable IT manager or marketing agency should be able to protect you from attacks.
8. Privacy & Security
With all the leaks, hacks and loss of data that’s happened in 2017 we expect to see a greater emphasis on privacy and security of private information in 2018. Most of the burden will rest on the shoulders of your ATS but it will be important to ensure your site and information are secure. You may also want to emphasize security in your marketing efforts. Creating doubt in the minds of clients and candidates that other staffing agencies are careless with their private information is probably going too far. But if you promote the fact that you’ve gone to great efforts to make sure their information is secure, that could go a long way. Especially with a candidate that is careful about this sort of thing. We recommend going about it carefully, within a cohesive content marketing strategy.
9. Coordinated Marketing Campaigns
The lines of SEO, Social and Content Marketing will blur. The truth is that the lines have been blurring for a while now. And that’s a good thing. Social media, content marketing and search engine optimization are all so closely related now that it makes sense to coordinate your efforts with a cohesive campaign. The link building strategy you use will involve your content marketing strategy. Meanwhile, your link building strategy will actually be an awareness campaign centered around social media mentions. We expect to see more marketing directors pushing for more comprehensive campaigns. We also expect to see agencies like Staffing Nerd offering more coordinated services for staffing agencies in 2018.
Expect to see more savvy marketers creating videos for their staffing agencies. Video marketing allows for great storytelling and opens up new advertising opportunities. With remarketing on Adwords you’re able to target youtube channels and advertise to candidates who have visited your job details pages without converting. In 2018 we expect to see more staffing agencies reintroduce candidates into their funnel with video remarketing ads. There are many ways to execute an effective video marketing campaign. Youtube alone will be a major player. Other strategies aside, Youtube alone boasts ridiculous statistics. As of January 2018, there were over 1.3 billion Youtube users, nearly 5 billion videos were watched every day (1 billion of which were on mobile), the site gets over 30 million daily visitors, and there are over 3 billion hours of video watched every month.
Personalizing the user experience of your candidates will have a big impact on retention and brand loyalty. Personalized job alerts, good quality recruiting experiences and personalized recommendations are a few great ways to incorporate personalization into your marketing efforts. Moving forward clients and candidates will grow to expect a more personalized experience. We expect to see staffing agencies accommodating them in 2018.
Candidate engagement will be big in 2018 with more staffing agencies opting for chat services and chatbots. This strategy is made easier with websites built on the WordPress content management system. Several third-party developers have produced sophisticated chatbot plugins for WordPress that your staffing company can utilize in 2018 to increase engagement, time on site, and other user experience metrics.
Learn how to capitalize on 2018’s digital marketing trends for your staffing agency
Indeed recently conducted a survey focusing on employers outlook for 2018.
One of the most interesting results is that the majority of employers continue to expect to hire more people than last year despite our current unemployment rate which is the lowest it’s been in over a decade. For staffing & recruiting agencies that means our jobs are about to get even harder. As demand continues to grow and supply continues to decrease the need for exceptional marketing & growth hacking increases exponentially. Strategic use of lead generating tools like Indeed will be key moving forward. Additionally, new platforms must be explored if you want to keep up with your competition.
This trend appears to be pretty consistent across the board including just about every industry surveyed. Several industries reported higher than average numbers including architecture & engineering (82% expected to hire more employees in 2018), Information Technology (75%) and professional services (71%). Retail companies came in below average at about 55% and educational organizations we’re one of the lowest at 41%. There are many speculations as to why the retail sector has such a bleak outlook including the continued increase in online retail popularity.
That being said, major reports and big data from all over the world show increased earnings of retail companies. And with turnover being as high as it is in retail experts like those at Indeed expect to a lot of hiring in 2018.
Regional differences factored into the Indeed survey as well with 75% of employers surveyed in the Soutwest expecting to hire more employees in 2018. These numbers are significantly affected by urban areas in this region.
Among companies surveyed by Indeed about 40% cited financial restrictions as the highest concern for hiring in 2018. Rather than being concerned about having enough qualified candidates or having adequate demand, they are worried that they won’t be able to afford the cost of recruiting candidates. This is true in many industries including healthcare where demand for disciplines such as Registered Nurses is already extremely high and shortages of qualified candidates continue to grow. 34% of the healthcare companies surveyed believed that they wouldn’t be able to afford to recruit in 2018. This can be good news for RN’s who will most likely see increases in pay in 2018, but bad news for healthcare staffing companies.
Healthcare staffing agencies have notoriously low advertising spends and we expect to see this increase in the coming years. The traditional rule is that you should reinvest approximately 5%-10% of your yearly gross revenue on marketing in order to avoid shrinking. 10%-20% reinvested in marketing is typically where you would want to be to grow your company. In our experience, the healthcare staffing industry has fallen far short of these numbers.
What this means for you?
From a marketing perspective, this means that there will continue to be an increased level of competition. Platforms such as Google Adwords, Bing Ads, Facebook & Instagram, Indeed and other major job boards are going to become more costly to get the same performance. Knowing this will allow you to budget accordingly. In order to keep up, you’ll need to spend more than you did last year. In order to grow and beat your competition, you’ll need to spend more than them. That being said you can’t just spend your way to the top. Search engine optimization is going to be tough and you’ll need to be creative in your approach. Link building has never been harder than it is now, but there are ways you can excel without investing too much money. Growth marketing and filling in all the gaps in your strategy is going to be important in 2018. If you’re not doing any remarketing you’ll want to start. If you’re not looking at new and innovative ways to reach your candidates you’ll want to start. And if you need help, you’ll want to talk to us. We expect to see increased use of marketing automation tools and more focus on content production of the social/viral and SEO variety.